$11.1 million to combat lead hazards in hundreds of homes in Lancaster

LANCASTER, Pa. -- It's the largest grant the City Of Lancaster has ever received.

The city now has an additional $11.1 million to combat lead hazards in hundreds of homes.

The goal? Make 710 homes and apartments south of King Street lead-safe in 5 years time.

"We have low income families, that you put those two together, that don't have the needs to maintain a property, do safe renovations, you're going to result in lead poisoning," explained Darren Palmer, Housing Rehabilitation and Lead Specialist.

In fact, a state study showed some kids tested in the area have elevated levels of lead in their blood.

"How can we build strong neighborhoods if fundamentally the houses in our neighborhoods are sickening our children with devastating life-long consequences?" asked Mayor Danene Sorace. "Lancaster, we will be known for righting a wrong that we have known about for 50 years. 50!"

The city received $9.1 million from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to tackle lead and an additional $600,000 from HUD for health hazards like radon and mold, plus matching funds from the city and property owners.

"The volume of properties that need to be completed in a 5 year period are incredible," added Palmer.

Tenants, landlords, and homeowners can apply to have their homes looked at. Eligible applicants will receive financial assistance.

What people need to know:

  • Contractors will assess levels of lead in each home and make necessary changes, including the replacement or repairing of doors, windows, and floors.
  • The program is designed to cover only the cost of repairing lead hazards, and all repair funds go directly to the contractor performing the work.
  • The owner will choose a Lead Certified Contractor to perform the work on the unit as long as the bid is acceptable by Program Staff.
  • Prior to the work commencing, contracts are signed by the owner of the property, and the contractor.
  • Contractors will have 10 days to make the necessary repairs; if they don't, they will be fined.

What properties are eligible?

  • Properties must be built pre 1978
  • Residential buildings with 1-4 units
  • Children under the age of six must reside or visit the property at least six hours per week.

As for the requirements:

  • Must have property insurance
  • Must be current on mortgage, taxes, and any financial obligations that is due to the City
  • Landlords are required to contribute 20% of the project cost prior to the start of the remediation work.
  • If the work is over $8,500, the landlord will be responsible for 20% of the costs and anything over $8,500
  • Rental units must be made available and marketed to low income families and the owner must give priority to families with children under the age of six for at least five (5) years.
  • If occupied, both the landlord and tenant must complete an application and provide documentation to confirm eligibility.
  • Tenant and owner occupied properties must meet income guidelines you can read about here.

Officials say it's important to know the program does not make the property lead free. Instead, the property will be considered lead-safe.

A lien will be placed on the property to ensure the property remains lead-safe and will be removed after five years.

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